As we are finishing a preview of a typical Frank Lloyd Wright museum tour, our gracious guide, Kimberly Higgenbotham, tells us that when asked which of his projects was his favorite, Wright would invariably reply "the next one." It occurs to me that this might be my own response to the question of which is my favorite road trip... but then it is becoming clear that my answer is invariably "this one."
We had arrived in Phoenix the prior afternoon, and after checking into the lovely Westin Kierland Hotel, jumped into our gear and rode over to EagleRider's location to pick up our bikes. Two Harleys were ready and waiting - a Fat Boy for Christa, and a Dyna Low Rider for me. After hooking up the GPS to Christa's bike, we headed to Old Scottsdale for dinner. As a long-time sportsbike rider, I was to be continually impressed by the Dyna - it took in stride roads of all shapes, sizes, and conditions, and my lower back felt as good at the end of a 12-hour riding day as it did before we left.
Something's Coming, Something Good…
Christa and I are both excited about our tour. Over breakfast, we share our anticipation of the next few days: we know we will see a diversity of natural splendor, sites and museums of importance to our national history, and exciting and challenging roads. What we will end up experiencing will surpass our expectations by far, and deliver a varied, interesting, and compelling chapter in our book of rides.
After a solid night's sleep in Westin's Heavenly Beds®, (not an exaggeration), we ride up to Taliesen West, Frank Lloyd Wright's home and museum campus, just minutes away. A pioneer in architecture, Wright designed to reflect the natural environment. The structures on this site follow the flow of vegetation, angles, and forms, and there is a sense of calm and serenity emanating from this harmony of man and nature. The views themselves are beautiful, and the concepts and ideas that Wright incorporated are fascinating.
Motorcycles & Gear
HD Fat Boy
Dyna Low Rider
Helmets: Shoei TZ-R, Multi-tech
Jackets: Olympia AST, Fieldsheer Adventure Touring
Pants: Olympia, Rev`It Marryl
Boots: Sidi Strada Air, Dainese Sport Touring
Gloves: Tourmaster Dri Mesch, Cortech GX Air 2
Luggage: Givi saddle bags T421, tank bag T419
We get gas and water, and take Route 87 toward Sedona. Through beautiful sweeping roads, I observe the quintessential Arizona vistas, a contrast to my usual landscapes of New York City skyscrapers, streets, and people. At one point I see out of the corner of my eye what seem to be hundreds of parked bikes. I motion to Christa to pull over: it's a large motorcycle junkyard, one bike piled next to one another. "All Bikes" in Rye, AZ, has innumerable parts to address what ails a bike. The road itself is one of wide sweepers, with what is now my favorite sign: the "squiggle-plus-arrow" denoting a "curvy road ahead"… with the incongruity suggesting speeds of 65 mph.
The day is waning and we chase the sunlight to Sedona. Just in time, we see the breathtaking red rock country at sunset. The rocks, of all shapes and sizes, seem on fire. Familiar shapes such as Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and my favorite, Snoopy Rock, are sharply outlined against the deep blues and purples of the late afternoon sky. As we stroll along the now quiet downtown at 9pm, we find a few open restaurants and peer into the shop and gallery windows.
High Ride to Show Low
We begin the day by exploring a bit of Sedona and get a primer on the town, local popular attractions like a jeep tour in the hills, an understanding of the vortices that inspire the metaphysical community active here. An outline of the town ordinances control the height, color, and lighting of Sedona buildings - thus minimizing the presence of humans and emphasizing the immutability of the multi-million-year-old rocks. The Visitor Center, right in town, provides lots of interesting and useful information about the area and related activities.
Before departing Sedona, we take a detour on the "Red Rock Loop Road," which begins in the west end and rejoins Hwy 89A just west of the city, and is part of National Forest lands. Some of the road is unpaved, but in addition to the adventure of the road itself, we experience stunning views of Sedona and its surrounding red rock sentinels, as well as a few moments of tranquility. Just 10 minutes from Sedona, this road is worth taking more than once if you have the opportunity. We come out of it covered in red dust, and now fit in nicely with the town color ordinances.
The highlight of the day is the route up into Oak Creek Canyon. Windy, twisting with switchbacks through canyon and forest, it's a technical stretch that is such fun I want to go back and do it again. But we press on, and at the top of the canyon visit the group of stands with jewelry and artifacts and crafts made by Native Americans. The Oak Creek Vista Overlook project, as it is known, is a cooperative established in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service in 1988 as an economic development program. For many of the vendors, this is their major source of income throughout the year. In harmony with the spectacular views, this scene offers a glimpse of history where not much changes over the years.